China Eyes the Hegemon

Concerned about foreign interference in ‘‘internal matters’’ (such as human rights, Tibet, and Taiwan), the Chinese government rarely comments on the domestic politics of other countries. But on November 1, 2004, on the eve of the U.S. presidential election, China’s vice premier Qian Qichen was quoted in the official China Daily as condemning U.S. ‘‘cocksureness and arrogance.’’ Qian, a former foreign minister and long-time foreign policy guru, lamented, ‘‘The Iraq War has destroyed the hard-won global antiterror coalition.’’ Long considered a moderate on policy toward the United States, Qian defined the Bush Doctrine as using ‘‘military force [to] rule over the whole world.’’ The timing of Qian’s sharp critique was also notable. If Beijing was hoping to influence the election, it clearly failed. But its willingness to take such a gamble suggests serious concerns about the Bush administration.

The Chinese leadership is not alone. The Chinese people also appear apprehensive about the Bush administration. In a mock election held in Beijing, Kerry won 430–117. And in Chinese cyberspace, the dominant sentiment was one of anxiety: How much more U.S. militarism can the world survive?

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